During the course of military operations the UK armed forces must be prepared to capture and hold individuals, whether prisoners of war, internees or detainees. These individuals are collectively known as captured persons (CPERS). The treatment of these individuals is of critical importance, not only from a legal and policy perspective but also to sustain the legitimacy of an operation. This was illustrated in the death of Baha Mousa, an Iraqi national who died whilst being held in captivity by UK armed forces. The consequences are still far reaching, not least for those directly involved, but also for the ongoing reputation of the UK armed forces.
Humane treatment of CPERS is not discretionary and the responsibility to treat people humanely lies at all levels of the chain of command. Although specific responsibilities can be delegated, they can never be abrogated from the higher levels of command. The mandated standard of treatment is humane, but this is not a matter of simply avoiding the accusation of being inhumane; there must be clear guidance on what is acceptable and what is not.
Failure to comply with the mandated standard of treatment will be investigated and may result in criminal prosecution; abuse or mistreatment of CPERS may even amount to a war crime. Being aware of abuse and failing to take action carries its own liability, thus having the moral courage to report abuse committed by others, including those more senior, is integral to ensuring humane treatment.
Joint Doctrine Publication (JDP) 1-10 (third edition), Captured persons (CPERS), is the capstone doctrine publication for all CPERS activities. It is based on the legal framework governing CPERS and is, therefore, more prescriptive than core joint doctrine. JDP 1-10 (third edition) contains enduring principles and best practice, setting out guidance for the strategic level together with the fundamental rules and principles that apply at the operational level. Importantly, it also reflects the UK government’s policy and guidance resulting from recent operations.
The publication is based on the legal framework governing CPERS and, as there is no room for judgement in some aspects of CPERS handling, some elements of the doctrine are prescriptive. It provides clear definitions for the prohibited 5 techniques and it prescribes best practice and permitted activities. It also incorporates the recommendations made by the Chairman of the Baha Mousa Inquiry. The publication contains guidance at the strategic level as well as the fundamental rules and principles that apply at the operational level. JDP 1-10 CPERS thus gives direction to UK armed forces who are planning, training for or conducting CPERS activities. All UK armed forces involved in CPERS activities must therefore be aware of JDP 1-10 Captured persons.
JDP 1-10 Captured persons (CPERS) (Edition 3) is published electronically only as it does not reflect the findings of the Al Sweady Public Inquiry Report (published on 17 December 2014).
After carefully considering any implications of the report, JDP 1-10 will be updated as appropriate. Both hard and electronic copies will then be made available.